Other tea party favorites such as radio commentator Rush Limbaugh and Fox News broadcaster Glenn Beck also were questioning Upton’s bona fides.
LCV Tracking Upton and Barrasso
"It’s really amazing what campaigning for and winning a title like chairman can do to a 24-year veteran of Congress, because Chairman Upton is totally unrecognizable to the congressman who has earned the 12th highest LCV lifetime environmental score among Republicans in the House," said Gene Karpinski, president of the nonprofit advocacy organization. "Representative Upton compared to Chairman Upton is like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde."
The site includes an "annotated" version of Upton's Wall Street Journal op-ed, where scrolling over the print reveals misleading statements in the article.
"With his new chairmanship, Chairman Upton is leading efforts to block, weaken, or delay the continued implementation of necessary public health and environmental protections," Karpinski said. "UptonUpdates.com will continue to shine a light on Chairman Upton’s efforts to protect polluter profits at the expense of public health."
In fairness, LCV is also taking Barrasso to task for what the nonprofit is calling bogus claims the senator made in the press release announcing his bill.
For instance, Barrasso said: "It's time for the administration to face the facts: Americans rejected cap and trade because they know it means higher energy prices and lost jobs."
But LCV counters that polling shows a strong majority of Americans support EPA carbon regulation. Comprehensive energy and climate legislation was blocked by a minority of senators in the pocket of Big Oil, LCV says.
Barrasso also claimed that his bill will "shrink Washington's job-crushing agenda and grow America's economy.”
However, LCV research shows that the Clean Air Act has a proven track record of curbing pollution while spurring innovation and creating jobs. A study released this week by Boston-based Ceres, a coalition of environmentalists and institutional investors, found that EPA's pending greenhouse gas rules could create as many as 1.5 million jobs over five years.
Some Senators Must Tread Carefully
Though several prognosticators predict that a bill along the lines of what Upton is proposing could pass in the House, Doniger of the NRDC is a naysayer. He worked for the EPA in the 1990s during the Clinton administration.
"I don't think the Upton bill will pass in the House," he said, adding that it will have a "bad smell about it" in the public opinion polls that support the EPA's use of the Clean Air Act.
It's anybody's guess whether Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has the wherewithal to garner enough votes in the upper chamber. Although President Obama has previously said he would veto this type of legislation, it's difficult to tell if either chamber has the votes to override it.
Democratic senators such as Barbara Boxer of California, who won re-election to a fourth term last November, are at liberty to lambaste legislative efforts to hamstring the EPA's authority.
"Bipartisan environmental laws are now under attack," the chairwoman of the Environment and Public Works Committee said after Inhofe and Upton revealed their intentions. "EPA's common-sense steps to address carbon pollution follow the law and the Supreme Court decision that the agency must consider this threat. Congress should not turn its back on the American people by prohibiting EPA from doing its job to address carbon pollution."
Five other fellow committee members joined her in issuing pro-EPA statements. They include Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, as well as Democratic Sens. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Tom Udall of New Mexico and Ben Cardin of Maryland.
Even though several of those senators are up for re-election in 2012, their seats are likely safe. However, Democratic senators from coal-burning, swing states up for re-election in 2012 are taking a more cautious approach toward this type of legislation. For instance, Washington insiders say trackers should watch senators such as Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who was recently replaced on the environment committee, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Claire McCaskill of Missouri.
Where EPA Stands Now
Congressional Republicans and lobbyists such as Joshua Zive of Bracewell & Guiliani repeatedly predict that the EPA’s efforts to control emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants at the utility level alone will cause a regulatory "train wreck."
But environmentalists call that metaphor a scare tactic. They counter that having all the trains pull into the station simultaneously simply makes it easier to transfer from one line to another.
A Supreme Court ruling in April 2007, Massachusetts v. EPA, gave the agency authority to treat greenhouse gases as a pollutant.